Toward political agency for girls: Mapping the discourses of girlhood globally

Jackie Kirk, Claudia Mitchell, Jacqueline Reid-Walsh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

39 Scopus citations


There is an increased interest around the globe in girls and girlhood. Although a tendency to refer to "womenandgirls" still pervades, blurring the specificity of girls' experiences, there is increased attention to girls as a special group within the study of gender and gendered experiences.2 This interest has multiple dimensions and multiple implications, and can be attributed to various, yet at least to some extent, interconnected tendencies. These discourses cut across and intersect with the theoretical fields and bodies of literature that address girls, girlhood, and girls' issues, including girls' psychological development, girls in development contexts (particularly girls' education), girls and popular culture, and historical and literary representations of girls. Although we are aware of the problematic nature of terms such as "third world" and "developing country," especially when contrasted with "first world" and "developed countries," we use the term "development context" to refer to particular locations in countries, regions, and communities like the South of Africa, often referred to as developing, majority, or third world. The relationships among the recurrent discourses as well as project and program experience, particularly in the health and education sectors, indicate the scope and complexity of girlhood. Yet the tendency is to divide girls' lives and experiences into sectoral or subject categories. This partition results in an ignoring- or at least a marginalization-of girls' agency and of the potential for creating a multidimensional, girl-focused platform for action and social change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGirlhood
Subtitle of host publicationA Global History
PublisherRutgers University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9780813547046
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


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